5 Incredibly Popular Video Games I Just Don't 'Get'

Breaking news: human beings often have different tastes in... well, everything. I'm no exception. Olives resemble salty shit pellets, purple doesn't look good on me and grapefruit juice tastes like an angry orc stabbing my taste buds with the arse end of a AAA battery.

The same holds true for video games. I've lost count of the ridiculous amount of man hours I've spent defending games like Metal Gear Solid 4 to people who don't 'get' it. In a way it's a pointless exercise, because people like different things, but it's only natural to defend the things we like because we're invested in them.

But below is a list of video games I don't get. These aren't video games I've played for five minutes and dismissed easily. These are video games I've actively tried to fall in love with, specifically because friends have spent hours telling me why it's worth loving.

These are games I've toiled with, games I've put a massive amount of effort into before walking away confused and bewildered. I don't get it. I don't get them.

Final Fantasy

It's good because...

The stories are engaging, the characters are well drawn, the universes are well developed. Nostalgia? The Combat... maybe? The intricate different levelling systems? I'm a bit clueless.

I don't get it because...

Well, to begin with, I've always felt — in the west at least — Final Fantasy was a thing you discovered as a teenager and invested a heavy amount of your own angst into. It was a thing you fell in love with when your tastes were a little less sophisticated. You felt like there was a story worth following and characters worth caring about. Coming into the series as an adult always felt a little bit like accidentally wandering into a One Direction concert with your teenager daughter. Hawkward.

But it was a series of random twists that kept me away from the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy VI never got an official PAL release in the UK, so I skipped that in favour of Secret of Mana (which did get a release), and I never played Final Fantasy VII because I had an N64. Years later I would invest a fair amount of time (about 12 hours) into Final Fantasy X, but I remember that weird claustrophobic sense that I was forcing myself to enjoy something when I was mostly confused: random encounters... in 2002? On PlayStation 2. Christ. Even back then Final Fantasy X felt like one long corridor after another. Not what I wanted from an RPG.

I even gave Final Fantasy XII a brief try when it was released towards the end of the PlayStation 2's lifespan but yeah... Vaan.

Piss off Vaan.

Animal Crossing

It's good because...

There's nothing else like it. Unique play-for-ten-minutes make-a-habit-of-it gaming. Cute little overworld, interesting characters, complete freedom. Less a game, more like a lifestyle choice, etc.

I don't get it because...

Maybe I lack initiative?

I first played Animal Crossing: Wild World on the DS and I was excited. The unique concept, the art, the reviews — everything seemed positive, everything I had read or seen about this game suggested greatness. I was convinced I would fall in love immediately.

Then I turned it on, set up my village, my character, walked into the world and immediately asked myself 'now what?'

I had a mortgage to pay off. There were things to 'do'. But none of it felt significant, none of it felt rewarding. Everything felt completely devoid of meaning and I couldn't find a single reason to continue playing. Maybe it was the lack of urgency, or the lack of an immediate goal, but I found it tough to convince myself to play.

But I tried. I tried really hard. I actually played Animal Crossing to the point where I paid off my mortgage. But then what? I felt nothing. No sense of relief. It was meaningless. There was no consequence to not paying my mortgage. Tom Nook wasn't going to repossess my house or break my legs like an animalistic loan shark. I simply couldn't find a reason to play. So eventually I stopped, and I never went back.

Super Smash Bros.

It's good because...

It's a well balanced fighter first and foremost. Accessible, deep, stacked with fan service. 'Fun'.

I don't get it because...

When the original Super Smash Bros. came out I was already old enough to feel cynical about the manner in which Nintendo churned out games and slapped the Mario license on them. Mario Party, Mario Tennis, etc. I thoughtlessly bundled Super Smash Bros. in with that bunch and never bothered with it.

So while you were busy having the time of your life, huddled round a TV beating the crap out of your best buddies in Super Smash Bros. I was playing Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark. Those are my memories.

When Super Smash Bros. Melee came out on the GameCube I was living in Japan. I had no way of learning how to play it properly. My copy was in Japanese so I could barely navigate through the options and no-one would play multiplayer with me. The game just gathered dust.

But even now, when I do play, I feel a bit inadequate. To a noob like myself it almost feels like Smash has zero depth. Despite the fact I know it's a game that can be played at a very high competitive level, and it obviously has depth, I can't convince myself to bother learning something that feels so basic to begin with.

I've never really understood Super Smash Bros. and I suspect I never will.


It's good because...

It's revolutionary, it's evolutionary, it's genius, it's a phenomenon. It's... Minecraft.

I don't get it because...

I'm old and set in my ways. Minecraft may be the hip hop of video games for me, a new fangled reinvention that I'm too decrepit to understand. Actually, maybe I'm being too hard on myself. It's really more of a time investment issue. Minecraft is a game with complicated systems that need to be learned, through communication, through forums, etc. It's not necessarily a game you turn on to blow off some steam after work. It's not Call of Duty, it's not Angry Birds.

It's LEGO.

The LEGO comparison is old and done to death but it's relevant. I think LEGO as a concept is magical, and I spent hours with it when I was a kid, but I don't really imagine myself spending hours after work building an exact replica of the Starship enterprise.

I think what I'm trying to say is this: I love the idea of Minecraft but I'm reluctant to actually engage with it personally. I like watching the videos, I love to marvel at the wonders that other people create. I love that it's this organic malleable thing and above all I love that it was an overwhelming, incredible success. I love that.

I just don't love playing it.

Call of Duty

It's good because...

It feels good. Fluid, 60FPS, brilliantly refined mechanics, slick story-telling, multiplayer...

I don't get it because...

I've spent way too much time playing Halo. It's a blessing and a curse. A blessing because Halo is a fantastic series, a curse because it makes it difficult for me to adapt to any other console shooter. In short: I play every single FPS like it was Halo. This means I really, really suck at Call of Duty.

It's painfully cool to dislike Call of Duty right now. It's 'cool' to be bored with it, to criticise its linear single player, its annual releases, its resistance to innovation and change — but I think that's mostly unfair. Year after year, by hook or by crook, Activision publishes a very polished Call of Duty video game and it sells in terrifying amounts. It does so because it has a very powerful brand, because millions of marketing dollars are invested in its success — but also because these games are very well made and hit a well-targeted section of the gaming audience.

In short, I'm not mad that Call of Duty is a successful franchise. On some levels I actually understand it. But I don't get it. I didn't even enjoy the generally unassailable Modern Warfare. I never felt like I was having a real impact on the battlefield like I did in Halo. I never felt like I had to think my way through encounters like Halo. I never felt like the multiplayer was dependent on individual skill... like Halo.

I think I'm sensing a theme here.

I like Halo.

As a final statement I think it's important to state that, objectively, I recognise all of the above video games are well made. You may enjoy them. You may love them passionately to the point where you will feel the need to headbutt the screen, google my name and pour anthrax into my letterbox. Please don't. Think of all the games you hate. Channel your fury, click on the comment section below, and write a brilliantly articulate paragraph on the video games that everyone seems to love except you.

That'll make you feel better — won't it?


    I agree with all of these except super smash bros.

      I agree with all of these, but add World of Warcraft.

        I agree with both of the above

          I'm in this boat - I've played a little smash bros, but I don't see it being the phenomena it apparently is. It's funny I have no interest in minecraft, but I've been playing a lot of cubeworld.

            Similarly, I can't get into Minecraft, but I absolutely love Terraria and am hanging out for Starbound.

    Smash Bros with Bros is one of the best things ever.

    Definitely agree on the Final Fantasy point. I think I was too little when VII came out because I didn't understand the random encounters thing. Also turn based didn't make sense to my Crash Bandicoot conditioned brain.

    One massive game I've never enjoyed is Mario Kart and that's simply because I suck at it. Hard. I cannot for the life of me win a race, even on the easiest difficulty. I just can't get my shit together.

    I enjoyed FFVII, but I always felt it was heavily over rated. I think it carries a lot of sentimental value for being the first 3D FF, and the first PSX title in the series. Each to their own though, as they say.

      It's one of those games that you either played it back in the day and enjoyed it to bits (heck, it even defined your gaming tastes) or you didn't.

      Playing it now just doesn't feel the same.

        I played it when it came out and never really got what all the fuss was about. The whole turn based mechanics put me right off and I only ever played the first few hours. Forced myself to play a few others in the series, and still, meh.

          It's like with everything in life - pretty subjective. Cars. Lovers. Paintings. Music. Everyone has a different taste. Some gems stand out because a large number of people like them, but certainly not everyone.

    I agree with pretty much all of your sentiments. To start with, I have never been able to get my head around any of the Final Fantasy games. I've always looked at them and just though, "Why? How is this appealing?"

    The only game you mentioned Mark that I can actually understand the appeal of is MW3. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan but I can see its place and why some people like it.
    As for the other games, I do not understand why anyone wants to play them. If they choose to spend their time that way and enjoy it, fine. But I just don't get it.

    So while you were busy having the time of your life, huddled round a TV beating the crap out of your best buddies in Super Smash Bros. I was playing Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark. Those are my memories.

    I did what you did AND played Smash Bros. You missed out man, those four games were the pinnacle of gaming until HL2 and F.E.A.R came out.

    Phew! He didn't say Pokemon. *breathes out*

    (I was expecting it :P)

    I definitely agree with Minecraft. I've spent hours playing playing it, trying to be open minded about it, trying to "have fun" with it, but I just find the entire thing so pointless.

    This will go down well, but I also don't get Mass Effect. I've finished the first one and played bits of 2 & 3, but I don't find the game, the story, or the characters the slightest bit engaging no matter how many people tell me how brilliant it all is.

    Edit: Actually, that should just be "I don't get any Bioware game".

    Last edited 07/08/13 1:15 pm

      But you do get why people might find it to be engaging, right?

        Of course. Just like this article, it's only my opinion.

      I agree with Mass Effect. I also don't enjoy Bethesda's stuff, namely Elder Scrolls and Fallout (3/NV), nor the MOBA genre or the Bioshock games.

        Wow, aside from MOBA you pretty much just named all of my absolute favourite games. Ah well, to each his own.

      I don't 'get' the first one, but I get the second and third games. Am I weird?

    I agree with everything except Minecraft. I get minecraft, I just can't sacrifice the time to indulge in it. Maybe if I was rich and retired and felt like I had nothing left to achieve in life, I could dedicate every waking hour to building magnificent creation.

    specifically because friends have spent hours telling me why it’s worth loving

    Friends can't force you to love something. That just doesn't happen. It's like they're trying to rape your mind. You either enjoy a game because you want to, or you don't.

    As you said, different people have different tastes. And it even depends on when we play a particular game. If I was to play a big chunk of my favorite games right now, I probably wouldn't enjoy them nowhere near as much.

    Take Deus Ex. It was great back in the day and amongst my favorite. But having replayed it recently, it just didn't stack up anymore. So if someone told me to play it now for the first time, it wouldn't be anywhere near as good as it was back then.

      They can't force you, no, but they can try to help you understand why they love a thing, and they can try to help you to learn to love it yourself. So, keep telling your friends why you like Deus Ex, and ask them why they love the games they love, if you don't already know.

        Yeah I totally agree. I was only kidding about the forcing bit.

        I'm often told by some friends about a bunch of Nintendo games. But since I never really played those systems much, I feel like I really missed out on some amazing titles.

    sooooooooooooooo disagree about final fantasy 7.

    Best. Game. Ever.

    Steam has even brought it back!!! :)

    I don't get and can't stand the Metal Gear Solid series... And this is after finishing the first two. The 'stealth' mechanics seem like a joke compared to other titles such as Splinter Cell, the movement, combat and shooting are clunky as hell, and the stories make little to no sense...

    Thanks for giving me somewhere to finally get that off my chest :D

      I agree the stealth in Splinter Cell is far better, to me the appeal of MGS is its bizarre story.

      The whole aniticipation over MGSV reminds me of all the crazy speculation that would take place between seasons of Lost.

    It’s a well balanced fighter first and foremost.

    Well, no.

    It's a party game first and foremost that can be played as a somewhat balanced fighter if you want to invest time in learning the mechanics.

    For most people, you don't bother learning all the SHFFLing and wave dashing and what have you. Instead it's a two button brawler; B for special attacks, A for normals and if you muck about with the control stick while attack the attacks do different things. The competitive scene is there but it's not why most people like Smash. Hell, it's easy to find people that like Smash and hate what the competitive community has done to the game in order to make it competitive.

    The appeal of Smash Bros is perfectly nailed in this commercial.

    [Semantics] Mark, you 'get' all of these. You just don't enjoy them yourself. And that's cool! But you clearly understand why people like them. Except maybe Animal Crossing, but it has this real social game to-do list completionist thing going on, so I think it's pretty easy to see why people love it.

    [On-Topic] I don't enjoy Fifa. Or Gran Turismo. Or, like you, call of Duty. But I do understand what makes people play these games.

    However, I do not understand Mortal Kombat. Aside from gore porn, it's just another fighter, isn't it? Fighters are a sophisticated genre; I don't get how MK keeps getting given money and developer time when it's compared to the other titans of its class. Like Street Fighter, with its intuitive quartercircles, and tuned mechanics. Or Smash Bros' accessibility, or Marvel v Capcom's insane juggling, or Blazblue's somehow consistent madness, or Tekken's history, vast character roster, and juggles. What exactly is the appeal, beyond 'imma snap this guy's spine in great detail'?

      I almost wrote about Mortal Kombat -- but I think the last one was pretty good.

        Why was it good? This is what I don't understand ^^;

        That was the one with the X-Ray moves, right? I got to give it a whirl at Mana Bar during PAX, and it felt totally weak compared to all the other great fighting games. It lacked the accessibility of Smash Bros, the finesse of Street Fighter, the fluidity of Dead or Alive, the cast and juggles of Tekken, and the all-out insanity of Blazblue.

        The only defining feature seemed to be the brutality of it, which, given that was only 'viewable' (as part of a super move or fatality) and not 'playable', seems like a weak draw in an interactive medium.

      Yeah, Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct never seemed to fit in. I understand people like both those games, and that's fair enough, but they never seemed to bring anything to the table.

      What exactly is the appeal, beyond 'imma snap this guy's spine in great detail'?

      The Simpson's Bonestorm seems to sum up Mortal Kombat for me.

        Speaking of which, I don't think a single person in the audience at PAX on the Sunday was interested when Microsoft proudly showed off the new Killer Instinct.
        The crowd was pumped to see BF4 footage, lukewarm for Ryse and couldn't have cared less for Killer Instinct.
        Does the world really need another KI game?

          I'm at best passingly interested in Killer Instinct. Seems Microsoft really don't know what to do with everything they brought from Rare. They did the same thing last generation with Perfect Dark Zero. The PS4 and XBOX One are both going to have fighters Killer Instinct can't compete with on brand name alone.
          Maybe if they'd brought out Banjo 3 it'd be different, but they probably link Nuts and Bolts success with the brands overall value. A solid platformer would help round things out for the XBOX One and maybe score a few converts.

      I love the first four Mortal Kombats, and the extreme violence is only a small part of the appeal for me. I wouldn't say MK is "just another fighter" - the gameplay is unlike that of any other I've tried. It may only be a tiny fraction as deep, complex and fluid as something like Street Fighter, but that's why I like it. The shallow, mechanical gameplay is easy to master, satisfying, and appeals to me in the same way rhythm games do. And while button-mashing to victory in Street Fighter can be fun briefly, there's no way I could ever be bothered to invest the hundreds of hours it would take to become properly good at it.

      I just generally gravitate towards games that are are more simple and immediately approachable, and Mortal Kombat is the Mario Kart to Street Fighter's Forza.

      Also, I haven't played much Tekken, but I think they are comparable in terms of history and characters. The first Mortal Kombat came out before the first Tekken, there are now nine Mortal Kombat games plus spinoffs, the plot has become gloriously cheesy and convoluted, and in Mortal Kombat Armageddon there were 62 playable characters.

    "Years later I would invest a fair amount of time (about 12 hours) into Final Fantasy X,"

    ...Cute, 12 hours.

    I think I invested a real amount of time (about 1200 hours EACH game) in FF7, 8, 9, X, 13 and 13-2 and loved every single second.

    But I do get your point and also agree that though people do like to hate on COD it's got by far the most polished/tight controls of just about any game franchise on the planet.

      about 1200 hours EACH game

      Whaaaaa? That's like 50 days of non-stop playing. Say you do 10 hours a day, that's still 120 days. :O

        Yeah it seems excessive, but I've always put in decent hours into FF's to get the most outta them - Multiplaythroughs, 100% completes, though FF13 and 13-2 I only clocked in 120 and 80hours it was mainly 7/8/9 which got more time in as I had spare time as a child (aka I didn't do my homework and played FF instead - I had about 4+ play throughs of around 400hours - stopped counting at 100hours tho :c each on ff7 and 8 :P and 2 playthroughs of approx 250hours of ff9)

          Amazing. I don't think I got anywhere near that amount. FFVII was capped at about 50h for me from memory. Not including subsequent attempts to finish it again later and then also on the PSP.

          Puts my 130h of Fallout 3 to shame...

            Not to mention my 600hours clocked on White Knight Chronicles trying to get the platinum trophy but was still about 400hours off.. did I mention I like jrpg's ;)

    I liked Final Fantasy when I was younger but after VIII I just lost interest in the genre completely. I don't even get particularly nostalgic about it. I've played VII a few times since but it doesn't grab me the same way.

    I like your summary of Modern Warfare simply because it acknowledges that Halo is the game you compare it to not Battlefield. There's a 'CoD devs want BF4 to be successful' article that my response is essentially 'duh, CoD has nothing to fear from BF because they're totally different games'.

    I'd say on the subject Halo is a game a lot of people don't get. It's difficult to explain that the game is actually good to outsiders without sounding like you're just some fanboy or buying into the marketing hype. I still don't quite get the appeal of the story, but the game play is undeniably good.
    You see Halo killers coming and they all try and fight it like a blockbuster without realising Halo is bankable because it's not just a blockbuster title it's a blockbuster title with some extremely smooth multiplayer.

    FFX was one long corridor after another!

      At least you could backtrack, unlike XIII :o

    I enjoyed Final Fantasy VII when it came out, but haven't been able to go back to it since due to the dpad controls, it was just frustrating to try to play on another system. I'll give it another go on my Vita... sometime....

    MGS4 was pretty good, but the controls are kind of rubbish in a post-Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell Conviction world to be honest. I hope MGS5 has evolved in that department.

    This is going to get me accused of crimes against humanity by other commenters, but I never really liked Resident Evil 4. I missed it when it first game out despite being a big RE fan, so I first played it on Wii. Controls were difficult to handle, gameplay wasn't anything special, the monsters just kind of waddled their way towards me from the other side of the map when I went into a new area... I honestly can't reconcile how what I played is the greatest game ever made according to the internet. :(

    Edit: I'll add that I try the demos of the RE games when they come out; I thought RE5 felt almost unplayble, RE6... Leon felt ok except for the fact that the game took the camera away from you CONSTANTLY (one of my biggest gaming peevs)... though the recent 3DS port with the boat is probably the best playing RE game I've tried in years.

    Last edited 07/08/13 1:35 pm

      Very much with you on RE4.... Where the hell did the zombies go??? Parasitic Spaniards?

      I wouldn't call it the greatest game ever made, but at the time the controls were an impressive advancement (really doesn't help you played it both way later and on the Wii). Resident Evil 5 had a similar problem. The game engine was way better and the co-op was sweet, but it strayed pretty far from Resident Evil on the Playstation.
      I was never one for the 'it makes the game more tense' justification of the terrible controls in the early games because I could always control my character just fine. However in RE4 it they made a significant attempt at reducing how much the controls fought you so it played a lot better. I just wish they'd reboot the franchise or something. Same controls, but less focus on action. Do something to ground the out of control story. Sort of like a spiritual sequel to Resident Evil 2 with Resident Evil 5's engine.

    I love Final Fantasy, but I understand why people don't get it.

    I agree with Minecraft. I played it solid for around four hours, built a pretty crummy looking castle, had a blast but then never went back.

    I don't get Pokemon. I should get it. It's right up my alley, I just try to play them and give up in a matter of minutes.

      I picked up some recent pokemon games, and was very frustrated with the slow pace of gameplay. I think I killed it for myself by playing emulators with the speed-up function. Made grinding for XP much quicker, and let me cut through the tedium of watching the combat animation for the n-thousandth time.

    I think you missed 2 on that list -
    Zelda and Mario

      While I loved Ocarina and Majoras Mask. I don't get the obsession fans have with the entire franchise. Same shit, new console, same 1998 gameplay IMO.

    I get COD, just not the COD 'community'.
    You know what I'm talking about.

    Mark I feel like I need to take this opportunity to remind you to keep playing Dark Souls

      Dark Souls should be on that list!

        Oh i think he gets Dark Souls, he just doesn't have the time to play it....thats what the deal is from my limited understanding at least.

    I keep thinking I adore Final Fantasy but I really only like about 4 of them and can't stand the rest.

    Totally agree with Animal Crossing as well. I've tried so many times to get into it only to be left asking myself why.

      Animal Crossing is for nerds. NERRRRRRRDS!

      ...So it should be right up my alley!

      That's pretty fascinating. What draws you to those three or four you enjoy, but repels you from the rest? Does it have to do with the characters? The settings? The gameplay? The graphics? If you can answer that question, you might learn something about yourself, and I'll learn something about how other peoples' interest in videogames works :D

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